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Letter from Matthew Flinders to Ann Flinders (18 of 41) (FLI25)

The Revd Mr Tyler
      Partney near Spilsby
For Mrs Flinders

Annotation: March 22 – 1805     No 22

Annotation: Nov.4.1804 No alteration

                                  Isle of France August 26 1804

    A second opportunity of writing to my dear friends now presents itself, the
first occurred about five weeks since. I yesterday enjoyed a delicious piece
of misery in reading over thy dear letters, my beloved Ann. Shall I tell thee
that I have never before done it since I have been shut up in this prison.
The first day of January I dedicated to the "Pleasures of Memory", and was
violently tempted to go further, but I rushed into something else and
escaped further addition to the misery of recollection. It is a general
and benumbing course of misery that I undergo in this imprisonment, but
by dwelling upon thy most charming letters every little of thy tender anxiety
and distreƒs is afresh call up in a vivid colouring to my maddened imagi-
-nation. I am as it were shut up in a cask and that has been rolled with
violence from the top of hope down into the vale of misfortune; I am
bruised and well nigh stunned out of my senses; but canst thou imagine
the addition it would be to this misery for the cask to have been driven
full of spike nails; — such is the increase of misery to my feelings
on thinking intensely on thee. I have many friends who are kind and are
much interested for me, and I certainly love them, but yet before thee
they vanish as stars before the rays of a morning sun. I cannot con-
-nect the idea of happineƒs with any thing but thee: — without thee
the world would be a blank. I might indeed receive some gratifica-
-tion from distinction and the applause of society, but where would
be the faithful friend who would enjoy and share this with me, and
into whose bosom my full heart could unburthen itself of its exceƒs
of joy. Where would be that sweet intercourse of soul, that fine sea-
-soning to happineƒs, without which a degree of insipidity attends
all our enjoyments? From thee, my beloved, and thee alone it is
that I look to receive this zest for life, this height of luxury.
    Thou ^ hast given me distreƒsing accounts of thy eyes, and the state of thy
health, — I fear to think it poƒsible that attacks upon these should
have returned since thy letters of September 1802 was written from Boston;
but the cold weather is terrible for thee. Oh that thou wast here in this
genial climate. It is not now too warm, and even in a prison we would
be happy if together. This is a large house in which eight English offi-
-cers now live. We have our seperate apartments and servants, and a
garden of about two acres in which we walk as we are disposed.
A wall surrounds the garden and house, and the gate is kept by a

sentinel to prevent us from going beyond it. Our allowance from the
French government is sufficient to furnish a tolerable table; and indeed
as prisoners, we have little to complain of except that we are not
permitted to live at large upon our parole, or to partake of any amuse-
-ments beyond our limit garden wall. We are divided into two meƒses, — Mr Aken, master of the Investigator, and Meƒsrs Deal and Seymour, two
midshipmen of the Dedaigneuse frigate and myself, form one, and three
captains of the army and another gentleman, form the other meƒs. Oh how
earnestly I have desired to have thee with me; I should hardly call myself
unfortunate had I thy fond delightful society. Couldst thou my dearest be
satisfied to be here? — I think indeed thou wouldst, for a time; nei-
-ther wouldst thou be without female society. There were four ladies
taken prisoners; two have been permitted to go with their husbands to In-
-dia, and the others are living at a house about 4 miles in the country;
they have met with handsome treatment upon the whole, their husbands
being indulged with a country house on their account, instead of being
shut up in this house which is the common place of confinement for other
officers. I am not without friends even amongst the French, on the con-
-trary I have several, and but one enemy; unfortunately the last is all-
powerful here, nor will he, on any persuasion, permit me to paƒs the walls
of the garden, although some others who are accounted leƒs dangerous
have had the indulgence occasionally. Had I indeed every indulgence
that could be given, still it would not do away the injustice in detain-
-ing me contrary to the expreƒs orders of the French government as con-
-tained in my paƒsport; but the unneceƒsary hardship and indignity
with which I was sometime treated, certainly adds to the injury. Did
the governor know from whom he keeps me, and what extatic [sic] happi-
-neƒs awaits my return, the least spark of humanity would be suf-
-ficient to make him hasten instead of retard my departure; but this
man knows no humanity for Englishmen. I look forward indeed
with hope, that the French government will order my immediate release
,and also that this order will arrive by or before December. In that
case I shall arrive ^ be in England about April or May. The moment
of landing I shall write to thee to meet me in London; or if thou hast
any visit to pay in London about that time, perhaps thou wilt be
there in May. It would indeed be delightful to meet thee there; and
the moment I arrive I shall fly to Mr Bonner in Fleet Street for
information. Heaven grant that no sickneƒs, no misfortune may
prevent thee from meeting me and being preƒsed to my enraptured

heart. Indeed my Ann thou knowest not how very dear thou art to me.
Thy joys, thy pleasures or pains, are also mine. There is between us that
sympathy which subsists between the different limbs of one body; mi-
-serably torn asunder we have indeed been, but we will re-unite, never
more, perhaps, to be seperated; and our second marriage shall be more
delightful than the first. Heaven grant that neither ambition or neceƒsity
may ever again divide us by the intervention of a trackleƒs sea.
    I think my dearest love, it would be useful to thy health to ride
on horseback in the fine weather; thy strength suffers from want of ex-
-ercise. Do not let a little expense prevent thee from any gratifica-
-tion of this sort. Buy a little horse, my love, and take the air as often
as thou canst, I am sure it will do thee good. — We will so enjoy our-
-selves when I can get a few months in the country. We will make a
tour amongst all thy friends and relations and mine, and for a little
while no expense shall stand in our way. — Adieu, my best
beloved for a time. To thy good mother and Belle remem-
-ber me most kindly, — I am a letter indebted to the former
but cannot now pay it. As for that idle thing, Belle, does she think
I will bring her any pretty feathers and ^ or little fishes when she has not
written me one line these live-long three years last past? No indeed,
not a rusty nail! Now I dare say she would like a speckled piece
of the coral reef upon which we were shipwrecked? or a green octagon
pebble from the top of the cloudy mountain? or a stump shell brought
up from the bottom of the sea 200 fathoms deep, by the lead? or a little
sea horse cased with horn, as big as my thumb and taken out of the
maw of a shark? or perhaps a set of Trims finger nails which he shed in
the Gulph of Carpentaria — ? — but not the least tiny bit will fall
to her lot. I have some cockles shells that weigh a hundred pounds a-
-piece, very convenient for wash-hand basins, and many "other won-
-ders too tedious to mention": — I shall see when I come home; perhaps
she may get one of them, — no, I will give her a cage full of jump-
-ing spiders as nimble as fleas and as big as small frogs: — wont
they be a curosity? [sic] everyone has nine eyes and a little tail: and
indeed they are thought by all who have seen them to be mighty curous. [sic]
    Health, my dearest love, most anxiously do I wish thee. This is now
a fine season in England — May thou be now happy in the enjoyment
of it.     Thy most affectionate Mattw Flinders

In cross writing on this page
Kind remembrances to the Franklins, Mr Tyler and thy aunt — I am about
to learn French. The bill is inclosed for thy use if thou shouldst have any occasion for

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Related people
Tyler, (Reverend) William
Chappelle (Flinders), Ann
Aken (Aiken), John
De Caen, Charles Mathieu Isadore
Tyler, Isabella (Belle/Bell)
Flinders, Matthew
Franklin family

Boston (England)
Gulf of Carpentaria
Ile de France (Mauritius)


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